[ by Charles Cameron — May 21st, Y2K, USS Topeka, Harold Camping ]
I’ve been listening to Harold Camping lately, he’s been on my car radio quite a bit and I like the way he handles callers – he’s a courteous old gentleman, firm when he has to be, and very, very certain that the Bible supports his date-setting for Judgment Day just four days from now on May 21st at 6pm in whichever time-zone you happen to be in – foolish the man who straddles two time-zones on that day!
Digression: I say that last bit, remembering that as December 31st 1999 slipped into January 1st 2000, the USS Topeka straddled the dateline, equator, hemispheres, seasons and millennia:
Its bow in one year, its stern in another, the USS Topeka marked the new millennium 400 feet beneath the International Date;line in the Pacific ocean. The Pearl Harbor-based navy submarine straddled the line, meaning that at midnight, one end was in 2000 while the other was still in 1999… The 360-foot-long sub, which was 2,100 miles from Honolulu, Hawaii, straddled the Equator at the same time, meaning it was in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Some of the 130 crewmembers were in Winter in the North, while others were in Summer in the South…
In any case: this evening Camping mentioned that his representatives had managed to get permission to post some of his end-times billboards in Dubai of all places – see illustration above — and apparently they’d contacted an Emirate bureaucrat while his boss was away from the office, and received official permission. And although the permission was quickly rescinded, that fact in turn led to Arab news-media carrying the message into half a dozen other countries which might not otherwise have been informed. All this, Camping, age 89, assured his listeners, was the work of God, the CEO — and he spelled out just what those letters stand for: Chief Executive Officer.
What a story — this I had to verify! – and it’s true, Gulf News for April 13th carries a story titled ‘End of days’ billboards in Dubai to be removed, says official.
Dubai: A billboard advertisement claiming that May 21, 2011 will be the “judgment day” according to the Bible, and which shocked many and dismayed others, will be removed, a senior official said on Sunday.
The large billboards put up on various busy roads of Dubai such as Al Garhoud and Al Jaffiliya, carries the sentence “the great and terrible day, who shall be able to stand”.
Marie Sheahan, Media Representative of Family Radio, who is campaigning to put up this advertisement about judgment day, told Gulf News that she and her husband are in town from the United States to advertise and “warn people about it, regardless of nationality, religion or anything else because this will affect everybody”.
So… I was listening to Camping on the radio this evening, fascinated as always by the interplay between Camping himself, the true believers and the doubters, when an awful racket assailed my ears – and Camping’s warning that the entire world was about to end was rudely interrupted by a more local and immediate warning that a tornado watch would be in effect just down the road in half an hour…
Oh, the irony!
Which brings up the question of when is an emergency so urgent that it can interrupt another emergency? I mean, should a tornado watch warning interrupt a warning of the end of the world? Does an ambulance have the right of way over a firetruck if they meet at an intersection?
Camping’s book 1994? had a similar theme, but lacked mathematical rigor alas.
This time, he’s double-checked.